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Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 6: Prospects #12-15

Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 6: Prospects #12-15
Oct 13, 2014, 11:20 am
We continue our coverage of the top NBA prospects in the Big Ten with scouting reports on players ranked 8-11 in the conference: Dez Wells, Aaron White, Troy Williams and Amir Williams.

The Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12 Conference
The Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 Conference
The Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects in the AAC Conference
The Top 22 NBA Draft Prospects in the SEC Conference
The Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects in the Big East Conference

Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 1:
(#1) Sam Dekker (Scouting Video)
Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 2
(#2) Caris LeVert (Scouting Video)
Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 3
(#3) Frank Kaminsky (Scouting Video)
Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 4
(#4) Terran Petteway
(#5) Branden Dawson
(#6) A.J. Hammons
(#7) Yogi Ferrell

Top NBA Prospects in the Big Ten, Part 5
(#8) Zak Irvin
(#9) D'Angelo Russell
(#10) Shannon Scott
(#11) Sam Thompson


#12, Dez Wells, 6'4, Shooting Guard, Maryland, Senior



Kyle Nelson

Maryland struggled mightily during the 2013-2014 season, limping to a 17-15 record in its final season in the ACC, while losing much of its perimeter depth in the process. Now looking to make an impact in its first season in the Big Ten, Maryland will look to its leader Dez Wells to conclude his career in College Park on a high note.

Wells earned 2014 All-ACC Third Team honors while emerging as Maryland's best distributor, to go along with his second consecutive season as its top scorer. Surrounded by some key veteran pieces, and supplemented with a highly regarded recruiting class, expectations are high in College Park and a standout season from Wells could mean the difference for Mark Turgeon and his embattled Maryland Terrapins.

At 6'4 with a burly 221-pound frame and a 6'8.5 wingspan, Wells possesses just average height for the shooting guard position, though his strength and length allow him to compensate. So too does his athleticism, as Wells is both quick and explosive, which is particularly impressive given his large frame.

On the offensive end, Wells spent most of his time with the ball in his hands, accounting for 25% of Maryland's overall possessions, while posting a career high 19.2 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He made a solid 51.9% of his shots from inside of the arc and just 30.4% from outside versus 57.1% and 33.3%, respectively during his sophomore season. His ability to get to the free throw line at an incredibly prolific rate, while knocking down 82% of his attempts helped him increase his scoring efficiency, though.

One explanation could be his changed role between his sophomore and junior seasons. As Maryland's point guard woes worsened and perimeter scorers became few and far between, Wells became Maryland's top option on the offensive end of the floor. Stated differently, Wells did it all as a junior – scoring in transition, running the pick and roll, shooting from outside, and taking the ball to the basket in isolation – and with few other viable scoring options on the floor.

The biggest question mark about Wells remains his perimeter shooting ability. He's never been a high volume outside shooter, as he attempted under two 3-pointers per game last year, of which he knocked down just 30%. He doesn't show great balance on his jump-shot, often contorting his body somewhat, particularly when rushed. With time and space, though, Wells has decent shooting mechanics, and is certainly not someone opposing defenses will want to leave open with his feet set. That fact that he shot a career high 82% from the free throw line shows that he at least as some potential in this area, perhaps playing a smaller role where he isn't forced to create as much offense as he was last year.

Wells thrives as a scorer off the dribble, where is he is a threat to pull up from mid-range or to use his quick first step and strong frame to bully his way to the basket. Though he must continue to tighten up his ball-handling ability, Wells shows intriguing instincts inside the arc, where he can create space with spin moves, crossovers, and step backs or elevate for a runner in the lane. Likewise, he is not afraid to use his body to his advantage and he does a great job of backing his man down for an easy layup or turnaround jump shot.

Finally, Wells is a good finisher off of the bounce, both in transition and in the half court, due to his excellent first step and explosiveness. He does not look to have the softest touch around the basket, but he does an outstanding job of drawing contact inside the paint, attempting a career high 7.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. While he will likely need to improve the consistency of his jump shot to emerge as a viable option at the next level, his improvement as a scorer is intriguing with regards to his NBA potential.

Wells was relied upon as a de facto point guard in Maryland's troubled offense, and the results were decidedly mixed. On the one hand, Wells did a solid job of running the pick-and-roll, particularly in terms of dishing off to rolling big men or looking for his teammates on the perimeter. On the other, he clearly looks for his own offense first, passing on just 12.7% of his isolation possessions and sports a disappointing 0.87 assist/turnover ratio in the wake of his assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted dropping from 4.0 to 2.7. Wells is not a natural distributor, even if his experience in this capacity in college could help him in the long term.

On the defensive end, Wells possesses an ideal combination of strength, length, and quickness, even if he is an inch or two undersized for the wing. When dialed in, he can stay in front of all but the quickest guards and his strength allows him to break through screens when guarding the pick-and-roll. He also has quick hands, which allowed to get in the passing lanes nicely and even come up with his fair share of blocked shots.

Though Wells is undersized, he has emerged as an intriguing player on the offensive end of the floor –and he should receive plenty of looks from NBA scouts during his senior season. After all, Wells looks as though he should have little trouble transitioning into the rugged Big Ten, as his combination of strength and versatility will be even more of an asset than it was in the past. Though he is a year older than most in his class and he will likely have to prove his value as a jump shooter, he has emerged as an intriguing prospect as a shooting guard off of the bench. If he is able to elevate Maryland back into postseason play, then expect Dez Wells's draft stock to rise accordingly.


#13, Aaron White, 6-9, Senior, Power Forward, Iowa



Jonathan Givony

Not very highly regarded coming out of high school, Aaron White has nevertheless been an All-Conference player since stepping foot on campus at Iowa, winning Big Ten All-Conference 3rd Team honors as a sophomore and junior after being named to the All-Freshman team after his debut campaign.

Showing a very unique style of play, White's offensive production has remained relatively steady over the past three years, scoring between 17.2 to 18.1 points per-40. While his usage rate has dropped off every year since he was a freshman, he's in turn established himself as one of the most efficient players in all of college basketball, posting a gaudy 66% True Shooting percentage, which would rate first overall among all returning college basketball players in our Top-100 prospect rankings.

Part of White's efficiency stems from his ability to score in transition, where he's one of the most prolific big men in the NCAA, getting out in the open floor almost three times per game, and scoring an outstanding 1.4 points per possession while shooting 73% from the field in these situations.

A very good athlete at 6-9, White runs the floor extremely well, sprinting the court with excellent speed and regularly beating opposing big men for easy baskets. He's also capable of grabbing a rebounding and igniting the break on his own, showing strong ball-handling skills and the ability to make good decisions.

Only three power forwards in our Top-100 rankings posted a positive assist to turnover ratio last year, and White would be the fourth if he was considered as such. He's a very creative and unselfish passer who can dish the ball off in a variety of situations, be it on post-entries, on drive and kicks, passing ahead in transition, or simply making a smart read within the flow of the offense.

In addition to giving him the freedom to grab a rebound and ignite the break, his coaching staff also uses him quite a bit from the high post area in the half-court, where he shows nice versatility. He can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot nicely, showing a solid first step, and gets to the free throw line at a strong clip, where he makes 80% of his attempts.

White doesn't need the ball in his hands to be very effective, as he does a great job moving off the ball and is a regular target for lob plays, using his mobility and the quickness in which he gets off his feet to play above the rim impressively. He finishes an excellent 62% of his attempts around the basket, part of the reason his 2-point percentages have always been extremely high, last season posting a career high 63% from inside the arc, which would rank third among all returning power forward prospects.

One area that White hasn't developed in as much as he may have needed to is as a jump-shooter. He made 17 3-pointers as a freshman, which left plenty of room for optimism, but only hit a career-low eight 3-pointers last season on just 26% accuracy, taking less than half the number of threes as he did the year before. Considering White's body type, it appears unlikely that he'd be able to find the same type of success inside the paint in the NBA as he does at the college level, which makes it imperative that he extend the range on his jump-shot. While he doesn't have bad shooting mechanics by any stretch, he only made 31% of his jumpers with his feet set last year, which is a number NBA scouts will want to see rise significantly in order to project him as a stretch power forward like he'll almost certainly need to be to carve out a niche in the League.

With that said, the biggest thing holding White back from being considered a better NBA prospect is his defense. He has a very frail frame that hasn't shown great improvement since arriving at Iowa, to go along with an unimpressive 6-9 wingspan (as measured at the Nike Skills Academy this summer).

White isn't strong enough to stop bigger and stronger power forwards from establishing deep post-position and backing him down, and struggles equally stepping away from the basket and trying to stay in front of versatile power forwards. White gets beaten off the bounce too frequently, having a difficult time getting in a low stance and moving his feet to contain dribble penetration. His awareness off the ball isn't great at the same time, as he gets lost in space too often and has a bad habit for gambling excessively for steals or biting on pump-fakes.

Iowa had one of the best (#5 KenPom) offenses in college basketball last season, but struggled badly trying to stop anyone on the other end of the floor (#120 KenPom), something White played no small role in unfortunately. At 222 pounds, with his short wingspan, it's not clear just how much upside he has defensively, so he'll have to do whatever he can to try and mask that with better intensity and focus moving forward.

On a similar note, White is just an average rebounder, with his 2.3 offensive rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted ranking third worst among the 16 returning power forwards in our Top-100 prospect rankings. His defensive rebounding rate was fairly poor in his first two years at Iowa, but improved quite a bit last season, from 5.2 to 6.7 per-40 pace adjusted, something scouts will continue to keep close tabs on.

Aaron White is clearly one of the best power forwards in college basketball this upcoming season, and has some very interesting characteristics that could make him a solid pro prospect as well in the eyes of many NBA scouts if he can iron out some of the weaker parts of his game. Showing better potential as a floor spacer and as an all-around defender will go a long way in helping him improve his cause, as will showing he can play a bigger role offensively in a winning situation while Iowa attempts to replace the production of Devyn Marble, who is now in the NBA.


#14, Troy Williams, 6-7, Sophomore, Small Forward, Indiana



Jonathan Givony

The 50th best prospect in his high school class according to the RSCI, Troy Williams came into Indiana with modest expectations and was unable to help the Hoosiers avoid their disappointing 7-11 finish in the Big Ten.

Williams certainly passes the eye test, as he has very strong physical attributes for a wing prospect, showing good size at 6-7, a solid frame (currently listed at 215 pounds), and outstanding athleticism.

Offensively, he saw the biggest share of his offense in transition, which not a surprise considering his raw skill-level is and how freakishly athletic he is. He runs the floor extremely well, and shows tremendous quickness and explosiveness, helping him establish himself as one of the best two-foot jumpers in college basketball.

In the half-court, Williams is very much a work in progress, as he's neither a great ball-handler, nor a consistent outside shooter, with most of his offense being created for him by others inside the paint.

He struggled to space the floor for Indiana last season, as despite seeing many of his minutes at the power forward position, he rarely proved to be someone that opposing defenses need to account for on the perimeter.

Williams made just 12 of his 41 jump-shots (29%) on the season, making just six 3-pointers on the season on 29 attempts. He gets very good elevation on his jump-shot, but struggles with the consistency of his release point, often shooting the ball on the way down after jumping high in the air. His balance and footwork is poor, and he tends to fade away on many of his attempts, things he'll have to improve on significantly before he's able to think about stepping into a NBA lineup.

In today's NBA, there is no such thing as a perimeter player who isn't at least somewhat of a threat to make an open 3-pointer with his feet set. Williams shot just 21% in catch and shoot situations, on a small number of attempts.

Just an average ball-handler, Williams is not a very prolific shot-creator, as he struggles to get by opponents if he can't simply blow by them with his very quick and long first step. He tends to dribble with his head down, not reading the floor and relying very heavily on his superior athleticism to help make plays, something that can work at times against slower defenders.

When Williams is able to the rim, or better yet, have a shot created for him inside the paint, he's absolutely electric. He made 65% of his field goal attempts around the basket, an outstanding rate, as he can elevate from absurd distances for ridiculously explosive finishes, without much of a head start. Williams is guaranteed to make Sportscenter a few times this year just by being on the floor with his amazing athleticism, but he's still working on rounding out the rest of his game.

Against higher level competition, he'll have to improve his off hand and ability to operate at different speeds, as he struggles to change directions on the fly and rarely creates much offense for his teammates. He turns the ball over on a very high 22% of his possessions, and only generates an assist on 9% of his possessions, giving him a -5.5 pure point rating, one of the lowest among wing prospects in the freshman class last year. His awareness and overall feel for the game leaves something to be desired at times, something he'll have to work on as he matures and gains experience.

Defensively, Williams was somewhat of a mixed bag last year. On one hand, he shows terrific potential on this end of the floor with his excellent combination of size and athleticism. The Hoosiers did a lot of switching on the perimeter and Williams was no exception to this, allowing him to show some very nice versatility staying with and in front of guards and forwards alike. He has excellent feet and is extremely quick laterally, something that shows up in the boxscore, whether in his ability to jump in the passing lanes for steals, elevate for blocks, or come up with rebounds in traffic.

Williams' average length, combined with his lack of experience, immature frame and poor fundamentals, often played against him on this end of the floor. He tends to lose his focus easily here, getting out of a stance mid-possession, giving up on plays, not fighting through screens, and getting lost off the ball. His awareness leaves something to be desired, as he doesn't do a good job of closing out on shooters and tends to bite on pump-fakes rather easily. Some of this will likely improve with maturity, strength and good coaching.

Williams' size and athleticism gives him plenty of potential to continue to develop as a NBA prospect, and eventually make the transition to playing on the wing full time as his skill-level improves. It will be interesting to see how he looks as a sophomore on a team that might not look all that different from the one that finished ninth in the Big Ten last season. If he's able to make a major jump, and help Indiana return to the NCAA Tournament, scouts will surely take notice.


#15, Amir Williams, 6-11, Senior, C, Ohio State



Josh Riddell

Ranked as the 44th best player by the RSCI in 2011, Amir Williams has struggled somewhat to live up to the expectations of being named a McDonald's All-American. While part of this can be attributed to being behind several strong frontcourt players, including Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, much of it is due to Williams' lack of production when he is on the court as well as his overall development. Entering his senior season, Williams will look to elevate his game and market himself to NBA scouts for the 2015 NBA Draft.

Physically, Williams looks the part of a NBA center as he was last measured at 6'10” with a 7”2 wingspan, and is currently listed by Ohio State at 6-11. However, the rest of his physical tools are that electrifying, as he doesn't have elite quickness or explosiveness for a player of his size. While he isn't the fastest big man, he is able to move up and down the floor with ease, thanks to his long strides. He also has room to add bulk to his 250 pound body, but shouldn't have a problem do considering his frame. He will need some added strength to compete with NBA players of his size but he has solid length and height to be an interior presence at the next level.

Not a very prolific scorer, Williams' most used offensive possessions are post-ups, according to Synergy Sports Technology, accounting for 29.5% of his offense. He is fairly efficient in these situations, shooting 52.9% on his 79 attempts. While he doesn't demonstrate advanced footwork on a regular basis, he shows flashes of nice moves against quality defenders, including a dangerous hook shot and drop step. He struggles at times to read the defense and develop moves based on how the defense is playing, as well as reacting to the initial defense played against him. If he wants to become a useful post scorer at the next level, he will need to continue to develop his footwork to be more comfortable beating his defender while developing counter moves to round out his post-game.

Williams will never be a relied upon scorer, so his ability to finish around the rim will be key. Last season, Williams scored on 63.3% of his 109 attempts around the rim, according to Synergy Sports Technology, an excellent mark. Williams could do a better job of absorbing contact and getting to the line, as his 5.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted is mediocre for a player primarily playing on the interior. Finishing through contact will be a necessary skill in the NBA, so showing this in his senior season could really improve his draft stock.

Despite his height, Williams is just an average rebounder as his 4.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted and his 6.1 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted are just average marks when compared to other centers. Williams has struggled with a low motor throughout his career and it has manifested in low rebound totals, as he doesn't always attack the glass and fight for loose balls. Williams has potential to be a much better rebounder on both ends of the court and NBA teams will want to see him focus on becoming a dominant rebounder this season, as this will be a role he will likely be asked to fill for NBA teams.

Defensively, Williams is a bit of a mixed bag. He doesn't provide much energy, which leads to plays with his long arms at his side for the duration of the possession or giving up on plays after the offensive player is past him. He is a decent shot blocker though, blocking 3.1 shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season. Williams also has a tendency to get bullied on the block, as he is not as strong as other NBA caliber centers at this point. He struggles at times with defensive concepts and positioning, which is only made worse by his poor motor. Showing a more committed effort to defense, including providing energy on a more consistent basis, will be something NBA scouts will look for from Williams.

Overall, Williams has some clear potential as a NBA player but it currently rests mainly on his physical tools. He will need to show that he has basketball skills to match his athleticism and can fulfill a role at the next level. Heading into his senior season, Williams will need to show some clear areas of improvement as well as bringing more energy in his minutes to show NBA scouts he is capable of playing a role at the next level. If he can do so, he will begin picking up more draft buzz as we move toward the 2015 NBA Draft.
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